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Harambee celebration returns to UNC School of Social Work 

By Matthew Smith 

After a three-year hiatus, students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work “all pulled together” to bring back one of the School’s beloved traditions — Harambee. 

The annual event celebrates the School’s ethnic, racial and cultural diversity through music, dance, poetry and spoken word. More than four dozen students, faculty and staff members filled the School auditorium Tuesday, Feb. 20, to see performances from their peers. 

“This is an opportunity for people to share their talents, expressions, stories and cultural experiences,” said Sharon Thomas, assistant dean of recruitment, admissions and financial aid. “It really is a time to come together and get to know people. The goal of Harambee has really been about supporting and uplifting our community, especially during times of struggle or challenges. It also makes a space where people can rejuvenate, create and share as part of the School of Social Work community.” 

The multicultural event was led by Thomas, Coordinator of Student Affairs Carly Walters, and first-year, full-time Master of Social Work students Mia Concepcion and MaryAshley Moody. 

“MaryAshley and Mia brought forth the idea to have a talent show to the Office of Academic and Student Affairs,” Thomas said. “Once they learned about previous Harambee events, they wanted to partner together to bring the program back to the School.” 

The duo served as emcees for the event featuring nine performances. 

“During fall finals we just thought that everyone is stressed,” Concepcion said. “We wanted another space to come together outside of the classroom and build community outside of a professional setting. We want to thank everyone for coming because it wouldn’t be possible without everyone’s support.” 

The event featured performances from: 

  • Elise Ashkin-Baker, Abolitionist Caucus presentation; 
  • Diana Kerolos, poetry reading; 
  • Ryan Phillips, guitar; 
  • Justis Mitchell, spoken word; 
  • Dicky Baruah, dance; 
  • Anna Smith, guitar; 
  • Adam Green, guitar; and 
  • Victor Ajayi, musical performance 

With the return of Harambee, a more than 3-decade-old tradition continues. 

“It’s so fun to see it come to life,” Moody said. “There are so many amazing talents at the School of Social Work.” 

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